I recently finished reading Boin et al.'s 2016 book "The Politics of Crisis Management:" Public Leadership under Pressure" (2nd edition). It was a valuable read, and I would recommend it, particularly to those interested in global catastrophic risks (GCRs). Overall, the book convinced me that more people interested in GCRs should seriously engage with the existing fields and literatures around disaster risk reduction and crisis management.
In this post, I share some of my copy-and-pasted notes from the book that were of particular interest to me. These notes cannot do justice to the book's extended discussion of the covered issues. Still, I hope some people may find my notes valuable and perhaps be inspired to read the book.
Note that the bolded words and sentences are my highlights, while the authors' highlights are italicized.
Chapter 1: Managing Crises: Five Leadership Tasks
a social system – a community, an organization, a policy sector, a country, or an entire region – experiences an urgent threat to its basic structures or fundamental values, which harbors many “unknowns” and appears to require a far-reaching response. This [crisis] definition has three key components: threat, urgency, and uncertainty. (...)
[Threat:] Crises occur when members of a social system sense that the core values or life-sustaining features of a system have come under threat. (...) A threat is not always measurable in terms of widespread physical or material damage. For example, acts of terrorism typically hit comparatively few, but instill fear and outrage among many
[Urgency:] We only speak of crisis when a salient threat generates a sense of urgency. (...) urgency, like threat, is often a socially constructed rather than an inherent property of a situation.
[Uncertainty:] We only speak of a crisis when (...) there is also a high degree of uncertainty. (...)
Types and variety of crises
Crises come in many shapes and sizes: man-made and natural, local and international, economic and cultural. (...)
[Locus of crisis:] what it hits. Some crises threaten the health and safety of people and their possessions as well as the community’s critical infrastructures, its economic viability, and the norms and values that hold it together. (...) But sometimes crises pertain to the ways a community or organization is run.
[Location:] Crises that threaten multiple geographical or policy domains – we call them transboundary crises – are much harder to manage than crises that respect the man-made borders that are used to organize administrative and political response capacities. These are usually “cascading” crises: a crisis in one societal subsystem (e.g., geophysical, socio-technical, political, economic, information, or service supply) causes disruptions in others.
[Urgency:] The more people agree that a problem needs to be resolved quickly, the higher the crisis level. So-called creeping crises provide leaders with plenty of time to develop solutions, but the lack of urgency typically makes it harder to create the winning coalitions that are needed to push through required policy changes. When there is little time to act, on the other hand, leaders may have more authority to unilaterally impose changes.
The "politics of crisis management"
in a crisis, leaders and other stakeholders will seek to impose upon their key audiences competing views about the nature and depth of the problems facing the system. (...) Crises have truly become “framing contests” during which the credibility and authority of public officeholders and institutions hangs in the balance.
Crises are now understood as the result of multiple causes, which interact over time to produce threats with devastating potential. In the process leading up to a crisis, seemingly innocent factors can combine and transform into dramatically disruptive forces that threaten the system.
Vulnerability of modern society
Contemporary systems typically experience fewer breakdowns, one might argue, as they have become much better equipped to deal with routine failures. Several “modern” features of society – hospitals, computers and telephones, fire trucks and universities, safety regulation, and training – have made some types of crisis that once were rather ubiquitous relatively rare (...) Others argue that modern society is becoming increasingly vulnerable to breakdowns: when a threat does materialize (...), the consequences in modern, technology-dependent mass societies can be much bigger than they used to be (lower frequency but higher impact). (...)
[Charles Perrow’s theory of disasters in technological systems:] This theory recognizes two factors that lie at the heart of both modernization and system vulnerability: complexity and coupling. As socio-technical systems become more complex and increasingly connected (tightly coupled) to other (sub)systems, their vulnerability to disturbances increases exponentially. (...)
The more complex a system becomes, the harder it is for anyone to understand it in its entirety. Tight coupling between a system’s component parts and those of other systems allows for the rapid proliferation of interactions (and errors) throughout the system. In these complex, tightly coupled systems, we should thus expect periodic failures that have the potential to escalate out of control. Perrow argued that crises and disasters should be viewed as “normal” outcomes of our continuing efforts to make systems increasingly complex and tightly coupled. In this perspective, the very qualities of complex systems that drive modernity also precipitate or exacerbate most, if not all, technological crises. (...)
Nonlinear dynamics and complexity make an emerging crisis hard to detect. (...)
Complex systems – including social systems such as crowds and online communities – elude straightforward understanding by policymakers who may be formally in charge of them. This creates a situation where growing vulnerabilities go unrecognized and ineffective attempts to deal with seemingly minor disturbances continue. The system thus fuels the lurking crisis. Only a minor trigger is then needed to initiate a destructive cycle of escalation, which may then rapidly spread throughout the system.
Crisis management success
Crisis management is effective when a combination of tasks is accomplished: an emerging crisis is swiftly detected, responders understand what is happening, critical decisions are made by the right people, the efforts of responders are orchestrated, government communicates with its citizens, and the aftermath of a crisis is marked by proper accountability procedures and a willingness to collectively learn the lessons of that crisis. (...)
First, a well-calibrated and well-organized response to crisis and post-crisis challenges helps to limit the impact of a crisis and facilitate recovery. (...) Second, a well-organized and effectively communicated response and recovery helps to repair – or even enhance – public trust in the leadership and the functioning of societal institutions.
Five tasks of strategic crisis leadership
- Sense making: collecting and processing information that will help crisis managers to detect an emerging crisis and understand the significance of what is going on during a crisis.
- Decision making and coordinating: making critical calls on strategic dilemmas and orchestrating a coherent response to implement those decisions.
- Meaning making: offering a situational definition and narrative that is convincing, helpful, and inspiring to citizens and responders.
- Accounting: explaining in a public forum what was done to prevent and manage the crisis and why.
- Learning: determining the causes of a crisis, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the responses to it, and undertaking remedial action based on this understanding. (...) Reforms after crises are easy to announce but hard to enact and sustain. There are many cognitive and institutional barriers to learning.
“battle of the Samaritans”
a well-documented phenomenon in the response to large-scale disasters when governments, agencies, and NGOs push different approaches to and methodologies of disaster response and recovery. As a result, it is difficult to align their actions and avoid spending a surprising amount of energy on maneuvering and squabbling.
Chapter 2: Sense Making: Grasping Crises As They Unfold
The sense-making task thus has two components: detection (of emerging threats and vulnerabilities) and understanding (of an unfolding crisis).
Chapter core claims
many types of impending crises are very difficult to recognize in advance. (...)
it is possible to grasp the dynamics of a crisis once it becomes manifest and unfolds. But it is also easy to get it wrong
Crisis as socially constructed
crises are to a considerable degree – in some cases entirely – subjectively constructed threats: before we can speak of a crisis, a considerable number of players must agree that a threat exists and must be dealt with urgently. (...)
The reality is that there is no natural correspondence between objective and subjective threats. (...) Public perceptions of risk can be manipulated by lack of transparency or purposeful framing on the part of risk-producing or risk-regulating entities.
Sharing information among crisis management entitites
since information is a key currency of power, officials can receive information based on strategic considerations of interorganizational and intergovernmental politics rather than operational necessities. It can be provided as a reward or as a favor; it can be withheld as punishment or to neutralize a potential adversary.
High Reliability Organizations
[High reliability organizations (HROs)] have a more broadly developed and culturally rooted capacity to grasp crisis dynamics. (...) [They] typically work in fast-paced and potentially deadly environments – think of military, police, and rescue service organizations – but they also exist in high-risk technology environments (nuclear power, petrochemical plants, air traffic control systems). These HROs have developed routines for using provisional information to create a provisional situational assessment (...)
As new information becomes available, assessments are updated or even abandoned if the balance of available evidence begins pointing in a different direction. Information is shared broadly and on the basis of a holistic awareness of how one’s own role is related to the overall system and an understanding of the information needs of others. (...)
The secret of their success lies in three characteristics: safety awareness, decentralization, and training. HROs have created a culture of awareness: employees consider safety the overriding concern in everything they do. They expect emergencies to happen. They look for them because employees know they are expected to do that – even when it comes at the cost of task efficiency. A high degree of decentralization empowers employees to act upon their intuition: when they suspect “something is brewing,” they can take it “upstairs” in the knowledge that their surveillance will be noted and appreciated. Managers defer to operator expertise when the situation calls for it. These organizations do not expect employees to rely on their intuition alone (even though leaders of these organizations understand the importance of expert intuition); employees are constantly trained to look for glitches and troubling signs of escalation.
Chapter 3: Decision Making and Coordinating: Shaping the Crisis Response
Crises and authority
Many studies of crisis management report an “upward” shift in decision making: the authority to make critical decisions is adjusted to the scale of the crisis. When a crisis strikes areas that extend over multiple administrative jurisdictions, responsibility for coordinating government responses typically shifts to regional, national, or, for some types of crises, transnational levels of authority. The same goes for crises that are local in geographical terms but whose depth and complexity exceed the coping capacity of local authorities.
Yet, this emphasis on top-level policy makers can obscure other, equally critical, performances by other players in other positions. Public leaders do, of course, make highly consequential decisions during a crisis. But so do other, perhaps less visible lower levels of governmental officials and nongovernmental actors.
one of the most persistent challenges of crisis leadership: the shaping and coordination of response networks. Many organizations and groups are typically involved in the implementation of crisis decisions. An efficient and legitimate response depends on the orchestration of their actions.
Chapter core claim
crisis responses take shape not just through strategic decision making from the top down; they also depend on the quality of decision making and coordination throughout the response network(s). How coordination is achieved is therefore critically important.
individuals in groups often do not share and use information effectively in advising leaders or reaching collective decisions. Two extreme forms of group behavior impede the quality of group deliberation and choice: conflict and conformity. Some groups fall apart under crisis pressure. In other groups, loyalty to the leader and the preservation of unity eclipse group members’ critical faculties and better judgment (...) Both extremes typically produce underperformance: too much conflict will paralyze the decision-making process and too much conformity lowers the likelihood that voices will be raised against rash responses and blunt adventurism of the group leader(s).
Challenges for newly-forming crisis response networks
Ad-hocery and new-group syndrome – The members of top-level coordination groups or crisis teams can be unfamiliar with what is expected of them and the rules of the game that apply (...)
Conformity pressures and groupthink - Premature and excessive concurrence seeking among group members – a phenomenon known as groupthink – has been put forward as an explanation of policy fiascos and mismanaged crises. (...)
Centrifugality and politicking - crises may give rise to intense conflict within decision-making groups. The high-stakes, high-pressure environment of crises can exacerbate preexisting interpersonal, ideological, or bureaucratic tensions between group members.
Selection of crisis response network members
A leader’s personal needs, sentiments, and calculations typically affect who is in and who is out of the loop during a crisis. Many leaders surround themselves with trusted and liked sources of information and advice. Agencies that traditionally are low in the bureaucratic pecking order may simply be overlooked or ignored regardless of their potential importance to the crisis response.
Decentralization of crisis management and response
The crisis response in modern society is best characterized in terms of distributed authority and network processes. This is not necessarily counterproductive. A well-structured delegation of decision-making authority can make for a more timely, effective, and legitimate response. (...)
Betting on centralization in times of crisis can be a potential liability. (...) Channels of centralization may lead to powerless or incapable agencies, bypassing and effectively neutralizing those that are actually capable of making a difference. (...)
In a system that is guided by widely shared central values, decentralization of decision-making authority is not a risk but an asset to the system’s response capacity. It helps leaders to conserve their energy for making the truly strategic calls that no one below can or should make.
Politics and crisis management
The act of coordination, at heart, is a political activity: to create orderly interaction within and among organizations requires delicate choices about power, responsibility, rules of conduct, and division of labor. (...)
crisis management is conducive to tensions between executive politics and collaborative governance. Much is at stake politically; if the (collaborative) crisis response is inadequate or does not live up to public expectations, political leaders may suffer the consequences.
The role of planning in crisis management
In reality, the quality of crisis response has less to do with planning and top-level control. Most effective crisis response operations are characterized by a remarkable degree of improvisation at various levels of government.
Chapter 4: Meaning Making: Constructing a Crisis Narrative
Leaders do not have much time to come up with such an authoritative take on events. Politicians, citizens, and other opinion makers, all making use of (social) media venues, offer competing interpretations and powerful images crafted for mass consumption.
We define meaning making as the attempt to reduce public and political uncertainty and inspire confidence in crisis leaders by formulating and imposing a convincing narrative.
Chapter core claim
crisis meaning making makes a crucial difference between obtaining and losing the “permissive consensus” that leaders need to make decisions and formulate policies in times of crisis. Effective crisis leadership cannot be brought about by simply “doing the right thing” on the ground. Leaders must manage the meaning-making process.
Crises as podiums
Most governments recognize crises for what they can offer: a podium from which to address a large and attentive audience. Oppositions share this instinct. Both know the stakes are high.
Actors creating crisis narratives
Policy makers seek to impose their definition of the situation in a context that is best conceived of as a triangular relationship between political actors (governmental and nongovernmental), the mass media (news producers: journalists and news organizations), and the citizenry (a pluralistic aggregate of all kinds of individuals, groups, and subcultures). Each of the constituents of this triangle sends, receives, and perceives information about the crisis at hand.
Citizen crisis behavior
one persistent myth that has proved nearly impossible to dispel is the idea that citizens panic easily in a disaster. This is striking because scores of studies have consistently shown that citizens tend to act quite rationally even in the most extreme circumstances.
Effective crisis narrative frames
An effective frame does at least five things: it offers a credible explanation of what happened, it offers guidance, it instills hope, shows empathy, and suggests that leaders are in control.
The importance of credibility for crisis leaders
When leaders are trusted, their actions and words are more easily perceived as sincere, competent, and signs of good faith. (...) Without [trust], even the most basic tasks become difficult and subject to intense scrutiny by the media and other watchdogs.
Chapter 5: Ending a Crisis: Managing Accountability
Crises can last a surprisingly long time. After the “hot” phase has passed, one would expect a crisis to wind down. A crisis, almost by definition, is a temporary situation – a state of exception. (...) But leaders often discover, to their bewilderment and dismay, that the worst for them is yet to come when the initial crisis response operations are “on track” or have ceased. (...)
Some [crises] are like bolts from the blue: they come and go quickly. Some crises smolder and flare up periodically; some seem to never really end.
Chapter core claim
When and how a crisis eventually ends depends to a considerable extent (...) on the way these accountability processes are managed. The management of accountability therefore is a pivotal task of crisis leadership.
Accountability processes prolonging crises
One factor that helps to prolong a crisis is the protracted and contentious nature of the public search for the causes of the crisis. Investigations typically reveal deeprooted causes, which, in turn, raise thorny issues about leadership, responsibility, and future performance.
A crisis or disaster nearly always creates accountability pressures for leaders. (...) Accountability, however, is not just a way of bringing closure to a crisis; it can also extend its life span and even transform it. In many cases we have studied, crisis-induced accountability pressures gave rise to a “crisis after the crisis.” They lift crisis events from the level of operations to the levels of policy and politics.
Rendering account involves a delicate blend of factual reconstruction, framing, and lesson-drawing. And there is only a thin line between framing and blaming, which explains why so many crises give rise to political and bureaucratic blame games.
Some crises are of such large scope and significance that they retain a special place on governance agendas. These “endemic” crises include global warming, overpopulation, deforestation, and water management. These crises are essentially “unmanageable,” at least from a national, short-term perspective. They are “wicked problems”: transnational in origins and impact, defying existing governance repertoires and institutional capacities. (...)
Combating their origins requires draconic measures that few powerful actors are willing or able to implement. As a result, the problems do not go away and may come to haunt future leaders and policy makers.
Ending a crisis
To end a crisis, closure must be achieved on both the operational and political dimensions of crisis management. Operationally, a crisis ends when the response network is deactivated because it is no longer needed. Strategically, a crisis reaches closure when crisis-related issues no longer dominate public, political, and policy agendas. (...)
In some cases, leaders terminate the crisis regime before operational activities have ceased. Premature closure occurs when leaders underestimate the complexity and tenacity of the problems at hand, underestimate opponents, or misread the residual stress level (...)
Some leaders see strategic or tactical mileage in extending rather than dampening the crisis mood, and in continuing rather than abolishing the crisis governance regime. Authoritarian leaders routinely invoke and prolong states of emergency to consolidate their positions and to vilify and persecute political opponents.
Challenge for constructing a crisis narrative
In formulating their strategy, leaders have to negotiate a deeply entrenched tension: they must consolidate, restore, and show faith in the security and validity of preexisting social, institutional, and political arrangements; yet, they also face pressures to criticize and reform these same arrangements.
Chapter 6: Learning and Changing: From Crisis to Reform
Conservation vs. reform
in response to crisis, incumbent policy elites are more likely to aim for conservation than reform. This thesis is firmly rooted in the psychological literature on decision making and commitment. It also fits the dominant view of public policy making in established democracies, which suggests that public policy normally evolves in a slow, incremental fashion.
Challenges for learning from crises
As crises unearth failing policies, procedures, and organizations, they provide clear-cut opportunities to learn and adapt. (...) In a context of competing accounts of what happened it is, however, not so easy to determine what went wrong and what should be adapted to prevent similar crises from happening again. Many different and sometimes contradictory lessons can be distilled from one and the same crisis experience. (...)
Even when there is agreement on certain measures to be taken, there is no guarantee that lessons learned will actually be implemented. And consensus about lessons does not necessarily mean that the lessons will be sufficient to prevent similar mistakes from happening in the future.
Chapter core claim
the capacity of governments to learn and change is constrained by fundamental tensions between the imperatives of political crisis management and the conditions for effective reform.
Distinction between "single-loop" and "double-loop" learning
Single-loop learning refers to the correction of practices without having to change core beliefs and fundamental rules of the game. (...)
Double-loop learning refers to (...) lessons [that] do not pertain to “the strategies and assumptions for effective performance [as in single-loop learning] but to the very norms which define effective performance.” (...)
Many crises have a “paradigm-shattering” quality to them. Their very occurrence or the haphazard response to them exposes fundamental limitations, weaknesses, and contradictions in existing policies and institutional arrangements. (...)
Double-loop learning initiatives are likely to touch sensitive nerves because they call into question fundamental tenets of the status quo, including the core beliefs that policy makers hold about the nature of the world around them.
Challenges for organizational learning
The research on organizational learning is equally pessimistic. (...) the underlying problem: organizations cannot properly communicate and understand information. They fail to collect sufficient relevant data. They find it hard to distil cause-and-effect relations from their limited and flawed pool of data (and even if they do, they have no way of testing their n=1 findings). They rarely possess a systematically organized “institutional memory.” Moreover, they generally do not have “uncommitted resources” that can be used to deal with these shortcomings and improve their information-handling capacity.
Accountability politics inhibiting post-crisis learning
The politics of accountability (...) further undermine the capacity to learn. The escalation of blame games has a particularly debilitating effect. (...) Information is tailored to be used as ammunition. Data are selected and molded to construct winning arguments in a battle for personal and institutional survival.
Crises as opportunities for institutional reform
The received wisdom builds on the insight that reform of public policy and organizations appears to be nearly impossible under normal circumstances. (...) Students of government argue that governance unfolds as a pattern of “punctuated equilibria” – long eras of stability alternated with short-lived periods of uncertainty and conflict. (...) [Crises] create opportunities for critics of the status quo and proposals for policy reforms and institutional changes that in normal times are simply unthinkable or politically infeasible. (...)
Upon closer scrutiny, however, the relation between crisis and reform is less straightforward than commonly assumed. In many crises, elites desperately struggle to preserve rather than reform the status quo. Many policy changes announced with fanfare during or in the wake of crises are reforms in name only and are better described as thinly veiled efforts to preserve pre-crisis structures and practices. Even when reform proposals are truly intended to bring about double-loop lessons and structural changes, they rarely materialize in the long run.
Four factors conducive to post-crisis political reform
Perceived inevitability – Crisis leaders may consider reform inevitable, indeed the only way to deal with the crisis. (...) Repair is not an option, as the threats cannot be managed; nothing short of all-out reform will save the day.
Annoyance – (...) When leaders perceive the crisis as a result of previously noted or long-standing problems, they may be tempted to exploit the crisis to rid the sector of the underlying problem.
Political survival – (...) If a sufficient number of powerful actors in the political arena favor [post-crisis] reform initiatives over conservation efforts, a reformist strategy is more likely to be adopted. Having presided over the development of the crisis and at risk of being blamed for its occurrence, incumbent elites will be especially sensitive to political moods and majority preferences.
Structural opportunities – In some types of emergencies (...) authorities can invoke formal powers and create bylaws that amount to a significant centralization of authority. (...) The more veto power is removed from the scene, the higher the chances that a reform coalition may triumph.
Chapter 7: How to Deal with Crisis: Lessons for Prudent Leadership
Ironically, despite today’s rapid pace of change, citizens and opinion leaders expect comprehensive security and a comfortable degree of stability, even when they may recognize in the abstract that their world has become increasingly dynamic, complex, and risky.
Time frame for crisis management
Effective and legitimate crisis response strategies may look very different depending upon whether the time frame is measured in minutes, hours, days, weeks, or months. As the time frame widens, there is increasing room for analytical, deliberative, consultative, and coalition building processes. Effective systems for early warning accompanied by vigilant, proactive response to warning create larger temporal windows for prevention, mitigation, and preparation of policy and operational responses.
Stress control for crisis leaders
leaders are humans too: they are not immune to stressors. (...) Distressed and weary leaders may slide into adopting simplistic images of the situation, stereotypes of other parties, and may be prone to either passivity or haste and recklessness. (...)
Rigorous adherence to elementary rules of stress control is essential for leaders in times of crisis. This includes a suitable regime of waking, working, eating, drinking, and sleeping hours; a prearranged delegation of competence and trust to deputies so that they can act with authority; and getting some of the most experienced and trusted advisers to monitor a leader’s condition and performance during the crisis
"Centralizing Authority Is Overrated"
Crises produce control paradoxes: everybody assumes and expects leaders to be in charge, but the very circumstances of the crisis make it both very difficult and sometimes rather undesirable that they are.
Planning in crisis management
the planning process (which builds familiarity with organizational contexts, capabilities, social networks, and enhances psychological preparedness) is often far more valuable than the plans themselves.
A fundamental tension exists between the idea of planning and the nature of crisis decision making. Planning presupposes knowledge of what will happen. (...) A crisis, by definition, disturbs stable environments and creates uncertainty. It presents authorities with unfamiliar challenges that can never fully be dealt with in preconceived plans. Any crisis response operation will therefore necessarily contain elements of improvisation, which requires creativity, flexibility, and resilience rather than rigid adherence to paper plans. (...)
planning scenarios can be used to encourage leaders and other officials to think the unthinkable, combat complacency and overconfidence, and motivate investment in preparedness.
Overgeneralization from past crises
Policy makers are easily led astray rather than helped by a strong reliance upon historical analogies with past crises. (...) It is naturally tempting for people to overgeneralize from the experience of one or two vividly remembered personal experiences to the neglect of the wider experience base. For this reason alone, personal experiences of crisis can and should be complemented by knowledge of the experiences of others.
The [crisis] lessons must become part of a shared and institutionalized memory bank, maintained by organizational units close enough to the heart of the policy-making machinery to be relevant, but shielded as much as possible from post-crisis politicking. From this reservoir of experience-based crisis management knowledge, guidelines for future governmental action can be formulated and disseminated.
"‘Sweeping’ Reforms Are Not the Only Way to Learn From Crises"
Deep crises often generate strong media and political pressures for sweeping overhauls of preexisting policies and organizations. (...) This line of thinking is predicated on the premise that big events must have big causes. (...) But the more sophisticated of these examinations also reveal another truth: crises are all too often the result of escalated chain reactions in policy systems or high-risk technologies. (...)
Sweeping organizational reforms may look good politically. They reassert the capacity to lead and they hold the promise of serendipitous gains from adversity. But sweeping, hastily conceived, and readily pushed through reforms tend to come at a price of unease, dissent, and unintended consequences, which may only be noted after the crisis momentum has faded. Leaders are thus well advised to subject crisis-induced reform plans to the same level of scrutiny and debate accorded to such proposals in normal times, even if the political temptation to utilize momentary windows of opportunity is strong and the urgency of systemic overhauls seemingly high. (...) Hence the paradox: crisis-induced reforms may well give rise to reform-induced crises.
to motivate (and secure funding for) preparedness efforts, leaders must cultivate an “it could happen here” mentality for themselves and those who follow them. This entails actively monitoring the crisis experiences of others and asking the tough questions of “Are we ready to cope with a contingency like this?” and “What can we do now to be more prepared when it is our turn?” In the absence of, or in between crises (...), leaders must protect preparedness budgets and provide resources
Leadership commitment to crisis preparedness
Senior leaders should champion preparedness activities as an ongoing effort. (...) Leaders can do this by showing personal commitment to crisis preparedness. Without leadership commitment, the work toward improving organizational crisis capacity will soon slide into a low-prestige ritual without adequate staff motivation. Leaders must free up some of their own time and allocate ample resources for joint socialization and concerted action among the units or organizations most likely to form the nucleus of crisis response operations. (...) Active leadership involvement in preparedness activities is critical. Through such involvement, leaders develop intimate knowledge of the strategic and operational capabilities of their crisis organizations.